January 4, 2007 The Pump Handle 7Comment

by Liz Borkowski


Since November of 2006, all cigarette packages and advertising in Chile have been required to devote half of their space to hard-hitting anti-tobacco messages. In addition to a “These cigarettes are killing you” warning, this includes a haunting photo of Miguel García Martín, a 72-year-old Chilean who lost his larynx to cancer after smoking for 20 years:


Chile Cigarettes 


Don Miguel, Chilean, smoked for 20 years. He lost his larynx to cancer.


Chile Cigarette Warning


Caution! These cigarettes are killing you. Ministry of Health, Government of


Cigarette ingredients


The smoke of each cigarette you smoke contains, along with other toxic products:

Tar, which causes cancer; nicotine, which makes you addicted; carbon monoxide, a toxic gas like that from tailpipes; arsenic, chemical used as rat poison.


In an interview by Marcelo Simonetti of Caras magazine, García explained the thinking behind the campaign (translation errors are mine):


They wanted to base the campaign on a person who was common and current. Someone who rides the bus, takes the Metro, who you can see shopping in the supermarket. Someone who also would be capable of answering some questions. …There is a very clear target in the initative, to reduce the smoking rate in the population. It’s certain that they’ve set the objective by 2010 to reduce from 40 to 30 percent smoking in the general population and from 45 to 40 in women of childbearing age. But the big part ofthe effort is focused in the schools. In this case, the target is to reduce the smoking rate from 27 to 20 percent. A study by CONACE (Consejo Nacional para el Control de Estupefacientes, or National Council for the Control of Drugs) determined that students smoke three times more than in the US and 30 percent more than the Spaniards.

García has dedicated himself to educating people, especially children, about the dangers of smoking. He gives free presentations at schools, speaking through a special amplifier that rests against his throat and renders his speech in a metallic tone.


In Chile, the percentage of all deaths attributed to tobacco was 17.43% in 2004, up from 15.95% in 1994.

7 thoughts on “The Face of Chile’s Anti-Tobacco Campaign

  1. When did Mr. Miguel Garcia started smoking? and when did he quit, when did he become a cancer victim, and how long after he quit smoking? or was he still smoking when the cancer was identified?

  2. Thank you Liz for this interesting post I reproduced in my blog (if you don’t mind, with due credit and the link). The question that comes to my mind is: why did the government only pick one picture and one person? And how did they come up with this one? We now know in term of bst practice that it is useful to have different types of warnings and different pictures and to rotate/change them regularly (every 6 months now in Australia).

  3. Thanks for linking to us. I haven’t seen anything about future plans for the campaign in the Chilean news stories I’ve read on this subject, although in one interview Miguel Garcia did say that he didn’t know whether or not there had been other candidates. This isn’t the only campaign that’s based on the idea that testimony from former smokers might have more of an impact than official-sounding messages; GlaxoSmithKline is basing an ad campaign for its nicotine patches on real former smokers.

    I imagine it would be hard to find someone to replace him. He’s become a very visible anti-tobacco spokesperson, going around to schools and giving presentations about the dangers of smoking — and doing it for free, apparently. The fact that he’s speaking through an amplifier probably makes a big impression on kids, too.

    Since the cigarette warnings just started under the new 2006 anti-tobacco law, I expect that the health ministry will be tracking smoking statistics and make further plans once they have a sense of how well this approach is working. I would hope they’re considering the best practices that Australia and other countries have come up with.

  4. It certainly hits you right between the eyes just seeing that hole in his throat and that is without hearing him speak. In the Uk they used to show a lady in her early 50’s who had emphasema. Just hearing her breathe was bad enough. She sounded like she had just completed a marathon.

  5. Nice pics and info Liz. Any chance you know where I can find links to pictures of advertising and health warnings publicly that I can use in WHO reports on tobacco control in the PAHO region?

  6. Loved the article.. I’m from Chile when i saw the cigarets that the company has come out with, hit me right away. Instantly i noticed how people wouldn’t even want to touch the cigarette pack.. it just completly grosed them out! There’s Also a couple of different pictures in the cigarettes pack although the most Famous one is Miguel’s. Anyways thank you for the article. Im doind a speech about why you should quick smoking and i was looking for this images for my speech. This is def. Very intresting and im sure my colleges classmates will consider to quick smoking. Thanks, Javiera M. from orlando, Florida, USA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.